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Page last updated at 15:08 GMT, Thursday, 29 October 2009
Ironclad: The siege of Rochester

Scenes from the film set of Ironclad include a partly rebuilt Rochester Castle

The imposing walls and battlements of Rochester Castle have been rebuilt on a Welsh coal tip for the filming of a medieval action movie.

Ironclad is based on the great Siege of Rochester Castle in 1215.

Although the castle is built from wood, metal and plastic at a distance looks completely real.

The film is as historically accurate as possible, designed to recreate the siege and make the viewer experience a medieval battle in action.

Directed by Jonathan English, the cast includes Paul Giamatti as King John, Sir Derek Jacobi, James Flemying and Vladimir Kulich. Ironclad is due for release in 2010 and with a £12 million budget it is said to be the largest independent film in production in 2009.

The actor

Jason Flemying chats to Robin Gibson

Jason Flemying plays the role of Becket in the film and after recently being on the set of Clash of the Titans is used to being involved in battle scenes.

He believes you need to just enjoy yourself on set whatever the outcome of the movie.

The producer

Rick Benattar recreates a bloody battlefield

Rick Benattar is one of the producers of Ironclad and likens the film's battle scenes to those of Saving Private Ryan.

He wants to transport the viewer into the middle of a gritty, bloody medieval battlefield.

The Siege of 1215

There have been three sieges of Rochester Castle, in 1088, 1215 and 1264. The most amazing of these was the Siege of 1215.

It was one of bloodiest sieges in English history, when, following the signing of the Magna Carta, King John gathered an army to reclaim his power over England and exert bloody revenge against those who defied him.

Rebels seized Rochester and control of Rochester Bridge. On hearing this King John came from Dover where he had been staying. The King's men managed to gain control of the bridge and then laid siege to the castle. It took about two months to capture the castle.

The Siege of 1215 was one of the bloodiest in English history

It is thought King John may have set up his command headquarters on Boley Hill during this time. The forces erected five great stone throwing engines to pound the defences as well as small-arms of bows and arrows. However, this was not enough and King John's men finally managed to gain entry into the bailey (castle grounds) by undermining the castle wall. Meanwhile the defenders retreated into the keep.

King John ordered his men to dig a mine under the south east angle of the keep. They shored up the undermined keeps foundations with wooden pit props. This was in a time before gunpowder and they used the fat of 40 pigs to help burn the pit props. It was successful and a whole section of the south eastern tower came crashing down and the keep with it.


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